Author(s): Nicholas Graves, Adrian G Barnett, Kate A Halton, Jacob L Veerman, Elisabeth Winkler
Background: Given escalating rates of chronic disease, broad-reach and cost-effective interventions to increase physical activity and improve dietary intake are needed. The cost-effectiveness of a Telephone Counselling intervention to improve physical activity and diet, targeting adults with established chronic diseases in a low socio-economic area of a major Australian city was examined.
Methodology/Principal: Findings A cost-effectiveness modelling study using data collected between February 2005 and November 2007 from a cluster-randomised trial that compared Telephone Counselling with a “Usual Care” (brief intervention) alternative. Economic outcomes were assessed using a state-transition Markov model, which predicted the progress of participants through five health states relating to physical activity and dietary improvement, for ten years after recruitment. The costs and health benefits of Telephone Counselling, Usual Care and an existing practice (Real Control) group were compared. Telephone Counselling compared to Usual Care was not cost-effective ($78,489 per quality adjusted life year gained). However, the Usual Care group did not represent existing practice and is not a useful comparator for decision making. Comparing Telephone Counselling outcomes to existing practice (Real Control), the intervention was found to be cost-effective ($29,375 per quality adjusted life year gained). Usual Care (brief intervention) compared to existing practice (Real Control) was also cost-effective ($12,153 per quality adjusted life year gained).
Conclusions/Significance: This modelling study shows that a decision to adopt a Telephone Counselling program over existing practice (Real Control) is likely to be cost-effective. Choosing the ‘Usual Care’ brief intervention over existing practice (Real Control) shows a lower cost per quality adjusted life year, but the lack of supporting evidence for efficacy or sustainability is an important consideration for decision makers. The economics of behavioural approaches to improving health must be made explicit if decision makers are to be convinced that allocating resources toward such programs is worthwhile.
Trial Registration: This paper uses data collected in a previous clinical trial registered at the Australian Clinical Trials Registry, Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: Anzcrt.org.au ACTRN012607000195459Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs